Thursday, December 20, 2007

Parking Space

Some months ago Annett's parents gave us their old car. We don't use it so often, because inside Oslo it is much easier to travel by bike and subway. However, whenever we visit her parents, it saves us over hundred euro in expensive train tickets. Since a couple of weeks we are therefore renting a parking space next to our apartment.

There is a problem that the parking place still lacks a sign that it is ours, and so when we came home tonight from shopping for a Christmas dinner, we found our space blocked by a big car. Not only had this person parked at a place where it was not allowed, she had also managed to cover the two remaining spaces with her bad parking skills. Luckily we have a very small car and we were able to squeeze it between her car and the bushes.

When I went down five minutes later to shop for groceries, a woman was just about to drive away. Now I was annoyed, and could probably have said it much more polite than I did, but I asked her if she was paying for that place, because we were. She answered with "unnskyld?" (I'm sorry?) and I switched to Norwegian.

It was an unbalanced discussion. Not because I wasn't speaking in my native language, but because of the facts we presented to each other:

WOMAN: I heard two years ago from my daughter that these parking places are for guest parking.
ME: We called a couple of days earlier with the responsible organisation and got assigned this parking place. Also there is a sign that says "no parking" at the end of the street.

As you can see she was in dire need to strengthen her argument, and so she did. Repeatedly she pointed out her authority in this matter, explaining that "this is how we do it in Norway." The message was clear, she was not going to let a foreigner tell her what she shouldn't do.

I was shocked. Should I've explained to her that she should feel privileged to have me here? Someone with an education Norway never had to pay for? Of course not. There is no arguing with people like this. Instead I chopped it off by saying that I didn't think we were going to agree. We should buy one of those wheel clamps, although that won't give us our parking space back...

When Solomon said there was a time and a place for everything, he had not encountered the problem of parking his automobile -- Bob Edwards